Clean Living: Forget weekly bin collection, Karla Hooper only needs to put her rubbish bin out once a year

Karla Hooper lives almost waste-free,with a pantry full of jars and a garden full of fresh produce. Picture: David Baylis
Karla Hooper lives almost waste-free,with a pantry full of jars and a garden full of fresh produce. Picture: David Baylis

AS Perth’s self-proclaimed “Earth Girl”, Karla Hooper lives a life where waste is no longer an issue; in fact, she is unlikely to fill even one rubbish bin with waste in a whole year.

Her life turned full circle in 2010 when she left her corporate job in the oil and gas industry and went in search of a more sustainable lifestyle.

“I quit my job, shaved my head, rented out my house, put my dog in my car and travelled around Australia,” Ms Hooper said.

During her two-year Outback adventure, Ms Hooper spent time catching wild camels, which inspired her to take on a pet camel and Clydesdale horses as sustainable forms of transport.

After returning to Perth she landed a job as a council environmental officer, which is where her passion for a waste-free lifestyle really kicked off.

MORE: 5 tips from Environment Minister Stephen Dawson for reducing single use plastic

“They didn’t have kerbside recycling at that stage and I started learning about the waste industry and what a mess it was,” she said.

“When I started thinking about waste, I thought if all I did in my life was concentrate on reducing the waste I create, then it would have a flow-on effect on my health and the environment.

“I don’t think plastic is evil, but it should be made for an ongoing purpose and single-use is just such a waste.” – Karla Hooper.

“Now I buy everything at bulk food stores and take my own jars.

“We grow our own vegies, have pet chickens for eggs, shop at farmers markets, make home- brew beer and kombucha, and take our own refillable flagons for our wine, as well as making a lot of our sauces, dressings, butter and meals from scratch.

Karla Hooper with her dog Wilson and one of her chickens in her vegetable garden. Picture: David Baylis

“We don’t go without, we just make sure we have something to put it in, so we don’t need single-use plastic or packaging.”

Ms Hooper also leads workshops on how to make personal care products such as shampoo, toothpaste and deodorant from natural products.

She is about to launch an online program called Zero Waste Living Made Easy, where people can learn how to live a zero-waste lifestyle and come together to learn and provide support.

She encouraged people to embrace plastic-free July and reduce specifically their single-use plastic.

“I don’t think plastic is evil, but it should be made for an ongoing purpose and single-use is just such a waste,” she said.

“We can be the change we want to see in the world and we can do that by actively taking responsibility and going zero waste.”